Category Archives: personal

Mental Health Awareness month

I was involved in an accident when I wasn’t even two years old yet, which has led me to being functionally blind in one eye. My brother was unloading the dishwasher. He saw that one of the glass mugs had water still in it, so he went to shake it out. As he did, the cup detached from the handle, shattering in mid-air, just as I was walking around the Image result for rescue 9-1-1corner into the kitchen. Part of the glass cut through my eyelid and into the eyeball itself.

It is by sheer luck that 1) the glass shattered in air and was straight out of the dishwasher, so the shard was sterile when it entered my eye, 2) my sister had literally just watched an episode of Rescue 9-1-1 about eye injuries, so knew to take a clean cup and place it over my eye until I was taken to the hospital. Otherwise, instead of just being functionally blind, I would be missing an eye completely, and 3) we lived in Baltimore, Maryland at the time, which is home to one of the best hospitals in the world (John Hopkins – still in the top 5 in the US, as of 2018). Image result for john hopkins hospital

Due to the accident, not only have I lost all peripheral vision on my right side, I also have what is probably a mild form of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Sudden loud sounds makes my face feel like it’s trying to turn itself inside out (a really odd feeling, just so you know); when kids are in the kitchen, I am jumpy and nervous until they’re out and – in my mind – “safe;” I can’t stand things close to my face, unless I am in direct control of them, which makes wearing glasses a very not fun experience at times; and bright lights on my “blind” side make me flinch and jerk away. All of which has led to me being called “jumpy” on a shit ton of occasions.

I do not drive – nor do I ever plan on it – because I feel that it would be irresponsible of me to get behind the wheel of a car when I can’t guarantee that a sudden sound, or the sun reflecting off a car’s mirror won’t make me jerk away and cause an accident. Between those tics, and the cost of having the car fitted with special mirrors, driving just isn’t a viable option. And I’m okay with that. It’s an issue, and I know it.

Image result for mental health awareness monthBut with all that being said, I don’t think I really qualify to speak up during the Mental Health Awareness month. While my symptoms are annoying, they do not really affect my life in a way that many others suffer from. Because of this, and because I want to participate in raising awareness of mental health, I will instead be sharing the posts made by a friend who suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and a panic disorder (which doesn’t have a cool acronym, and I’m very salty about that – even if my friend isn’t). She is documenting her month and what she goes through on a daily basis on her own blog, and I will be reblogging them here.

I will be posting three here throughout today and tomorrow to catch up with what she’s already posted, and then I will re-blog her posts throughout the month as she puts them up. Because of the time difference between us, sometimes my reblog of her posts will be a day later than the actual publication date. It is my hope that, by sharing her experiences, others will gain some empathy and understanding of what a person with a mental illness goes through every day. It isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, surprise, surprise.  

If you notice, I have also added a link in the sidebar, right underneath the Suicide Image result for mental health awareness monthAwareness help site, to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) site. There, you can find more information and helplines.

Please, if you ever feel you feel like you need help – reach out. I know it’s hard, it feels like a weakness, but it isn’t. You wouldn’t apologize for needing help if you had a broken arm, why should you feel weak because your brain is a jerk? It’s not your fault. You did nothing wrong. You having a mental illness is no more your fault, than it is my fault for being short. You can’t help it, neither can I. The only differences here, is my being short won’t kill me, and if I need help, society doesn’t give me any grief about it. The first can be somewhat mitigated if you can reach out and get the help you need. The second can only change if we all band together to get the message out there, and reduce the stigma.

So. Let’s work together. Reach out. I promise, if you need help? There will be a hand out there to hold. Someone who will work with you. Let them help you.

If you don’t suffer from a mental illness yourself, feel free to participate this month anyway. There is no excuse not to. It takes a village, guys. Let’s go.

Muse-ic

For as long as I can remember, music has grabbed me by the imagination and dragged me along for whatever ride the tune decided to take us on. I blame Michael Jackson’s music videos, honestly (looking at you, Thriller, Remember the Time, Moonwalker, etc. ), but the fault wasn’t his alone.

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Anyone else remember these things?

The Kingston Trio must also take some of the blame. Songs like Dorie and They Call The Wind Mariah still take me from this world, and into another where people dance with flashing eyes and wicked smiles around burning campfires. Gue Gue sends me drifting through the bayou, falling asleep to the sounds of frogs and singing crocodiles. I used to listen to Shady Grove/Lonesome Traveler, and think up stories of why the man left Shady Grove and became the Lonesome Traveler.

 

One song of theirs in particular, has always stayed with me, but not because of the music or even the voices, which is usually the case. No, it stayed with me, because it was the first song I could remember listening to that told an actual story. All of the other songs were about love, or losing a love. Little snapshots of time, captured in a tune. South Coast is different. Give it a listen sometime, and you’ll see what I mean (if I try to write about it here, I’ll end up writing a short story to go with it, and…let’s just not do that right now, okay?).

This fascination with music and writing still continues. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gotten more lost in a story I’ve created from the movie’s soundtrack than the movie itself. Even now, I find myself writing to music more often than not, though I have to be careful with what I listen to. If the lyrics are in English, then I get too distracted with the words to pay attention to what I’m writing.

Related image

Meet Gackt. He writes all of his songs, has an amazing way with words…and half the time, looks like he just    stepped out of an anime.                                                    

I’ve tried listening to classical/orchestra, but all that did was either make me sleepy or just tune everything out. A couple writing friends tried suggesting electronica, but yeah. That turned into a big pile of nope for me, too. Some of the music wasn’t bad, mind you, it just didn’t do anything for me, inspiration wise.

So far, the best music I’ve found for me to write to is basically anything non-English. Luckily, I listen to a lot of music from overseas – mostly older J-rock and K-pop, so I still have plenty of music for my playlist. Also, the J-rock singer I prefer tends to be a bit…dramatic…with his music videos. Often, they tell a story (or at least part of one), and that makes me itch to tell one, too. The only problem I’m having with this strategy is that I actually studied Japanese for a good couple of years, so I’ll be listening to one of the songs and I’ll start picking apart the lyrics I can understand. I don’t understand Korean, so the K-pop songs are still safe, but it’s hard to write zombie fiction to songs like “Ring Ding Dong” and “Bubble Pop,” you know? Especially with the death of ShinEE member Jonghyun back in December.

So, for all you TL;DR people: Music gives my stories life, and RIP Jonghyun.

Eye love good news, don’t you?

Ah, yes, I am a two year old, thank you for asking (hey, I warned you guys the eye puns were never gonna end…).

So, long story short, I have a trip coming up at the end of the month, and I need new glasses (my last pair was so bad, the next doctor was convinced I was given the wrong lenses or something), so I scheduled an eye doctor appointment and got two unexpected bits of good news.

  1. I now have 20/20 vision in my good eye.Snellen chart.svgI’ve mentioned before that I am pretty much blind in one eye due to an accident when I was very young. Well, in my other eye, my vision was, at best, 20/40*. Not terrible, but not perfect either. Just a little bit nearsighted. Again, no big deal.

    Well, when the doctor checked my vision this time, he said the surgery must’ve shifted my eye just right or something, because I now have “perfect”** vision. I had noticed before that my vision seemed changed, but I thought maybe the tumor had been affecting it, and now that the tumor was gone, my eye was just going back to normal. Apparently not, though! Hey, I’m not complaining. Had a tumor removed and a corrective surgery, all in one! Not a bad deal, hey?

    I do have a prescription for new glasses though. Went and turned it in on the same day, so I should have my glasses here in a week or two. I went all out on the lenses. Got myself some transitionals so I don’t have to worry about losing my sunglasses. Again. For like, the millionth time.

  2. My eyes are leveling out.
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August 2016 – Left eye appears to be lower than right eye.

The way I eventually found out about the tumor behind my eye was because of the proptosis – or bulging out. When you looked at me, it looked like one eye was lower than the other.

The first time I noticed it, I thought I’d had a stroke or something, because that was the only explanation I could think of for one eye to be lower than the other. After the CAT scans and MRI though, it turned out that the tumor was pushing my eyeball down and out. That was why my face looked all lopsided.

After the surgery, my eyes still looked off to me, and I figured my face was stuck that way because of how long it took before the tumor was removed. Our skin only has so much elasticity, and it decreases with age. I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore, so I pretty much just resigned myself to my new look. I asked the doctor about it though, and hey, surprise, surprise. He said that they’re almost back to normal.

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July 2017. About two weeks after surgery. Eye lid still swollen, but looking much better.

Whether or not my left eye will continue to move back into place, we don’t know. Honestly, we probably won’t know until it finishes moving. In the meantime, though, I’m happy. I actually put on makeup for the first time in almost two years the other day. Before, if I put on any kind of makeup around my eyes, it just made the difference in their positions stand out even worse, so I had stopped wearing it for the past year.

Plus, right after the surgery, it hurt to mess with my eye, so trying to put on eyeliner or eye shadow was just NOPE.

So, yeah, there you have it. Good news and more good news. My next official after-surgery check up will be next month, but considering the news I got this past week, I think the check up should go well enough. Fingers crossed, anyway. I am so ready to be done with hospitals and check ups.

Especially the ones that are first thing in the morning.

comparison

Side by side comparison. Forgive the crappiness of the “before” picture. NO ONE takes a good picture at the DMV, and I didn’t take any other pictures before.


* For those of you wondering how the whole 20/20, 20/40 thing works: Basically, if you have 20/40 vision, it means that you have to be standing 20 feet away from something to see what someone with 20/20 vision can see, standing 40 feet away.

** Despite common belief, having 20/20 vision does not mean your vision is perfect. 20/20 only applies to the clarity of vision. I have slight astigmatism, so even though my vision is clear, it’s not perfect. 

Eye can’t even…

Yeah, I’m not letting go of eye puns anytime soon.

Anyway, it occurred to me that I hadn’t updated you guys on my eye problems lately. I had my six month check up back in November. So far, I’m still okay. My left eye still isn’t tearing up right, but it seems to be getting a little better? I (FINALLY) watched Justice League the other day, and at one part of it, both of my eyes stung like the tears would come. Only one eye actually teared up, but the stinging is still new, so fingers crossed it keeps improving.

My next appointment isn’t until May, but I need to talk to them before then to see about getting new glasses. It’s getting kinda hard to stare at my computer screen without squinting (which is weird because the last time I had my vision checked, my good eye had went from 20/40 to 20/20…I thought age was supposed to make your vision worse?), and it’s past time for a new pair anyway.

At any rate, life is getting kinda exciting. “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies” is finally finished, and “Blood Runs Black” is….well, not off and running. More like limping. I’m not liking it at all, to be honest, but it’s going.

I have two vacations coming up, one at home, and one with my family. Can’t wait, but there might be a bit of radio silence for a while. You can always find me on twitter, especially now that I’m hanging with the #WriteFightGifClub tweeps. This group is insane, but in all the best ways.  It’s always nice when you can find your people.

New year, Old me.

It’s the New Year, so of course, everyone is making resolutions for the year. Some people are being smart about it, keeping it to things that are actually within reach (looking at you, Nikki ), and to you guys, I tip my hat. The rest of ya’ll are just crazy, and I wish you the best of luck.

Me? My only promise is to still be me. I know better than to try and make any sudden changes, and honestly, there’s not that much I want to change about myself. I’m not perfect, but I am me. I am the product of my life, and I am okay with that.

Now, I’m not saying there won’t be changes (in general), but the changes coming are about me finally getting off of my butt and getting serious about my chosen profession. That means more blog posts (dang it), more writing in general, and less Facebook games when I should be writing (really not liking that one…).

I’ve already gotten started on the more blog posts. I have two more posts about World Building in my queue to get finished, and I have another about Creative License vs. Laziness waiting to be written. There’s life working at a gas station (more exciting than you’d think, believe it or not), and life being a nanny of two kids who are characters all on their own.

For the more writing part, I’ve started work on “Storm Warning” again, and book two in my zombies series, “Blood Runs Black” went live on New Years Day. I’ve also joined the monthly writing challenge over at WritingChallenge.org , along with Nikki over at thebibliofeels. It’s only day 3, but we’re doing well so far. We just have to keep at each other, and that’s not exactly a problem for us.

The Facebook games…ugh. That is the tough one. I really only play one, but then I spend the rest of my time playing The Sims (4, of course) or DC Legends, and those…those are time killers like no other. In fact, I’m pretty sure Time sees those coming and just starts begging for mercy. It never gets any, but at least it tries. The other problem is that when I’m not playing those games…I’m playing Playstation. I don’t have the fancypants PS4, but PS3 has enough games to keep me occupied, and my roommate just added another one (more on that later).

So yeah. No new years resolutions, but a whole crap load on my plate anyway. Ah well. Fun times, amiright?

NaNoWri-NO!

I swear. Every other year, I see/hear about people participating in NaNoWriMo, and I ask myself “why not?” and I decide to give it a try the next year. Halfway through, my word count is at half of what it’s supposed to be (and that’s if I’m lucky), the feeling of failure starts sinking in, and I suddenly remember “oh, this is why!”

know we’re not supposed to get discouraged. I know that every single word, even if we only write five for the whole month is still five more than we had before, but it doesn’t help. Especially when there are people calling out their word counts, and you can’t help but compare theirs to your own and feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

I fell into the NaNo void this year. I am currently about 20k words behind, and Thanksgiving week, when the kids will be home from school starts on Monday. I also have two major assignments coming up that same week, and the week after, during the last week of NaNo. I’m not counting on catching up. I’m pretty much making this post to remind myself not to fall for this again. I’m still writing, don’t get me wrong, but I am refusing to let myself feel bad for not reaching the goal.

For those of you who are participating: Best of luck.

For those of you who are so far behind that you’re about to give up: grab a cup of coffee or tea (or whatever) and join me. We can sit together and enjoy the wooshing sound the NaNo deadline makes as it goes flying by.

The things we realize…

It’s interesting how a random thought can turn into a realization about your entire childhood. A couple weeks ago, someone on Facebook posted about how they liked horseradish, and it got me thinking about my grandfather.

In the entire time that I knew him, and I’ll grant you, it wasn’t very long, but in that time, he never asked me to bring him anything. He would ask my cousins, or my aunts and uncles, but never me, and I think I finally figured out why.

To borrow the good ol’ sports analogy, I was born with two strikes against me. Let me explain…

First, my mother.

My mother is easily the most kind hearted person I know. Sometime early in my parent’s relationship, my mom was helping make sandwiches for lunch. My grandfather asked for horseradish on his. Mom, never having horseradish before, proceeded to slather it on to the bread like it was mayonnaise, and gave it to him. Grandpa took one bite, and spat it back out, yelling, “You trying to kill me, woman?!”

That was strike one.

Then, my sister.

My brother and sister are both 9+ years older than I am, and grew up when my family was especially church orientated. When I say “church orientated”, I mean, my father was a deacon, and my mother was a Sunday School teacher. So it was church every Wednesday, twice on Sunday, and every single day during Revival. This might not seem relevant, but bear with me.

Now, my grandfather liked to drink beer. He also liked to sit in his comfy chair, which left him with a problem: how to get a nice cold beer from the fridge…without getting out of his comfy chair. His solution was to ask my sister to bring him a beer.

Remember the thing about the church? Here is where it comes into play, because, you see, the church taught two major things: respecting your elders…and alcohol is bad. So, grandpa’s solution…became my sister’s problem. Alcohol was bad, but so was refusing to do what he asked her to. Fortunately, my sister has always been smart and came up with a solution to grandpa’s “solution.” She brought him a beer from the fridge, alright. But first, she gave it a good shake.

He made it through the unexpected beer shower the first time. And the second. And maybe even the third, I don’t remember how many times she did this to him before his cogs started turning, but eventually, he stopped asking her, and turned to my brother instead.

I love my sister, let me just get that out of the way now. She is the usually the sweetest little thing. However, she has her moments. And when grandpa asked our brother to bring him a beer? Well, she had a moment. She got our brother, three years younger than her, in on Operation Respect Our Elders/Beer is Bad. It eventually got to the point where grandpa would look around, realize that they were the only two there…and get up out of his chair to go get his beer, rather than risk another shower.

That was strike two.

By the time I came around, grandpa decided it was better to change sports than to worry about any curve balls I might’ve thrown him, and – just to be safe – he also wrote my name on all of the benches…with permanent marker. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, of course, I’m surprised he didn’t take a knife and carve my name into the wood.

At any rate, it’s a childhood mystery solved.

[Update] Everything is good so far!

For those who want the tl;dr version, please see the title. Everyone else, please continue reading.

Yesterday was the one month post-op check up. I won’t go into the long ass wait, because it really was a long ass wait (the neuro-specialist was called away for an emergency surgery), but the long of the short (so far) is that I am okay, and doing great so far.

There were a few concerns I had to ask him about though. I was told  that I may experience blurry vision for about a year. That’s all fine and good, but I expected it to mean that, when my eye opened up finally, that it would start off as blurry, and get better in time. Instead, one day, my vision will be fine, and the next, it isn’t. One minute, my vision is fine, and the next it isn’t. Hell, my vision has gone in and out about 3 times while I was typing this. I wouldn’t care so much, since I know it’s supposed to be temporary, but I have classes and work, and I need to be able to read for both of those. So yeah. it’s annoying.

The other issue I was worried about is because the eye they operated on is not tearing up the way it should. I went to watch “Wonder Woman” for my niece’s birthday, and during the sad scenes…only one eye cried. It was a very weird experience. It did it again when we went and watched Despicable Me 3 (though, fortunately, not as many sad scenes).

So I talked it over with the doctor, and he thinks it’s because of the gland they operated on. The lacrimal gland is the tear gland. He says that the gland creates a film of moisture over the eye that helps it to move easily within the orbit, and to see. According to the notes from the surgery, there wasn’t any damage to the gland, but it could be not working right yet because of the trauma around it. So, basically, the gland is either creating a thicker than usual film over the eye, or it’s not creating enough of a film. Either way, I have eye drops to try and help it out. We won’t know if it’s a permanent thing or not for a while.

Other than that, the doc says I’m healing great, and my next appointment will be in about three months.

Next update: holy world building, Batman! I’m in love *_*

I made it!

Sorry for the lateness, everyone, but I. Am. Back!

So, went in for surgery on Wednesday morning. Got there at 8:30am like they told me to, and then I ended up waiting almost two hours before they even took me into the back. If I had known I’d be waiting that long, I would’ve brought a book or something, but ugh. Anyway. Got to my prep/recovery room, and they came in with the IV.

Yeah, I noped the fuck out again. I warned them, the doctor warned them, and the head anesthesiologist even had a note in there to sedate me first, but noooo. They didn’t want to do that. They ended up calling the doctor who would be overseeing my anesthesia, and he came in to talk to me. He said as long as I signed the paper saying that I understood that there was a higher risk with gas induction,  they would do it my way. I had my hands out for the paper before he even finished talking. Obviously he couldn’t just let me grab and sign, he was a good doctor, but dammit I tried.

Anyway, apparently part of why they prefer starting the IV first is because some people freak out when they get to the OR. They see all the tools and stuff and get scared. I told them “I’m a writer, and this is -hopefully- the only time I will be in an operating room. I’m not going to freak out. If anything, you’re going to have to gas me just to get me to stop asking questions.”

They got a good laugh out of that, and then they wheeled me in. I tried to get them to speed up, but the one guy said he was too old to be running through the hospital, dammit.

Then it was go time. I just want to say this: I LOVED my anesthesiologists. I had asked them to wait until I was completely out before they started the IV. When they started the gas, I saw him step forward, and I put my hand up and said “Not yet.” around the mask thing.

Guys, he listened.

I was expecting to have to fight with them the whole time, but they worked with me. Seriously, if you ever find yourself having surgery at John Peter Smith in Fort Worth, Texas, and you’re nervous: ask for Dr. Davenport and Nurse Gwen. I don’t know if they only work with the eye surgeons or what, but they are amazing.

Obviously I don’t remember the surgery. I woke up because someone was telling me “time to wake up!” I do distinctly remember telling them “no.” They tried again, and I told them, again: “NO!” Then I started asking for Kristy (roommate/adopted sister). She came in, and got to witness me almost deck one of my doctors (in my defense: the doctor was prying open the eye they had just operated on, I mean…c’mon!). I got distracted from swinging at the doctor though, because when she pried open the eye, I realized I could see.

One of the risks of the surgery was the loss of vision, so I was distracted enough for her to finish torturing examining me.

I made one of the nurses nervous, supposedly. I told them I wanted the lump they removed. I believe my exact words were “I want to put it in a jar in my room and name it ‘Fred’.” The nurse tried telling Kristy “Oh, that’s just the drugs talking.” But Kristy corrected her. “No, this is normal. If it were the drugs, she would’ve came up with a more creative name.” Kristy said the nurse gave her a weird look and left very soon afterwards. (On a side note, I meant to name it “George” like in the old cartoons. “I will hug it and squeeze it and love it all to pieces!” but “Squishy” was also in my list of names.)

Getting home from surgery was the worst part. Both of my eyes were swollen shut, so I couldn’t see anything. Plus, anytime I stood up, I was nauseous. So there was a lot of laying down going on there. My mom arrived around 7pm that night, and I’m not even going to lie, I cried like a baby. I really really did not like being blind.

My “bad” eye (the one I’m mostly blind in) finally opened really late that night/early the next morning, so that helped. My niece was amazing while I was recovering though. She brought me drinks, helped bring me food. Took care of our cat, and the dog. Just…all of it. She was very helpful, and I am very proud of her.

My other eye didn’t open for about three or four days, so my “bad eye” was pulling some major double duty. I ended up with headaches from eye strain and too much light. The doctors only prescribed Tylenol 3, one pill every four hours, but it was just not cutting it, so I called a nurse and asked if I could take two instead. She was worried I would run out too soon (and I did), but ugh. It was worth it. By the time I did run out, it was time to go back and have the stitches removed.

The only thing I will say about the stitches is that it SUCKED. It felt like she was cutting ME instead of the wires/threads.

Now, about the tumor:

I FINALLY found the name of it. It was a pleomorphic adenoma of the lacrimal gland. It can be dangerous, but usually only if 1. The whole thing is not removed, and 2. If the capsule around it breaks. Both of those can lead to the tumor becoming malignant and very aggressive. Dr. Itani was able to fully remove the tumor, and it was in one piece (no breakage of the capsule). So as far as we are aware of at this moment: the tumor was benign.

I still have to be monitored for regrowth, because that is where the real danger begins, but other than that, I am safe and in the clear. My next appointment isn’t until August.

Both of my eyes are open now (my left eye is still a little swollen and bruised, but it’s open), and I am celebrating. Wednesday is my niece’s birthday, so we’re going to go watch Wonder Woman, and tomorrow…tomorrow, I update Zombies!

…and do a crap load of homework. *sigh*

No zombie update today.

So, there isn’t update on zombies today, but that’s because I have a different kind of update instead.

SURGERY!

Called the hospital today to make sure the surgery would still be happening on Wednesday. It took a while for her to get back to me, but YES. Finally. I find out what time they’ll be doing it tomorrow sometime between 3-6 PM.

Now, this also means that there will probably not be an update for S’N’TZ on this coming Monday either. It will depend on if my eye is still all swollen shut and everything.

Fingers crossed for me guys.  First time ever having surgery, not quite sure what to expect.

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